I’ve said it before, many times - and I’ll say it again - the phrase “this book could change your life” is VERY MUCH overused in Publishers’ press releases and on book cover blurbs, but-but here is a book claiming not only to change your life but to do it in a mere 7 days!

But then, this is Paul McKenna, a very successful person indeed, so let’s find out what kind of weight we should lend these bold claims!

In a world where people have been in therapy for many years, and are still no nearer a cure, or at least not appearing to be, it might at first seem totally and completely absurd for Paul McKenna to claim either he or you or anything you can change your life in 7 days. Then again, people thought the world was flat for 1000’s of years; it didn’t mean that rounded earth was an impossibility - it just meant that the correct information/approach hadn’t come along yet!

Those who have been reading this book reviews blog for a while now will know that I have dipped into a fair number of self-help books and also indulged in the odd hypnosis self-help recording too! When a new friend of mine told me she had been trained in hypnosis and NLP by Paul McKenna personally in London, it inspired me to try out a few Paul McKenna books, as she seemed very positive about Paul and his work. And despite all the self-help books I have read - there are still times when I need help, even if it’s just a little boost, so I thought it would be interesting to read Paul McKenna’s Change Your Life in Seven Days and see what it could offer me!

I should note that I did read the book just like a book at first; however it contains plenty of active exercises which you need to work through if you are hoping for that big change - just reading is not enough, you have got to help yourself! However, now I have got an overview of the book, I am going to go back and work through the exercises, as I do believe there is some mileage in what McKenna has to offer.

Firstly, if you’re looking for an easy read, and not mountains of text to wade through, and also look for good value in a purchase, then this could well be a factor consider, as you not only get the book but also a FREE mind programming CD (although I am not too keen on the marketing of it as FREE in capitals - you are in effect buying a book and CD!).

So you get a book and a “mind programming” CD. Paul Mckenna makes much of the idea that you can re-program your brain, using the image of “installing” new software. This is not as revolutionary or crazy as it may sound - advertisers spend billions of pounds/dollars seeking to re-programme people’s minds, and it works very well - or they wouldn’t continue to invest so much in advertising programs! How refreshing it could be, then, to spend a little time re-programming your mind to some of the results YOU want!

If you have not read any of Paul McKenna’s serious books before, you might still retain the rather less serious image of him. As many people consider him as a TV personality and comedy stage hypnotist of the entertainment field along with concerts, tv shows, movies, etc.

- he is, in fact, a highly educated (with a doctorate) person and has spent many years researching into what makes people tick, and how to make them tick better - covering fields such as hypnosis and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). He draws much of the advice contained in Change Your Life in Seven Days from his knowledge of NLP.

If you’re not familiar with NLP, it is a system of psychotherapy which, instead of looking into what’s wrong with people, actually looks at what works well and seeks to replicate this. So for example, McKenna has studied the behavior patterns of 100’s of successful and confident people to find out just what makes them successful and confident, and he brings this knowledge to his self-development systems. There is more information about NLP on the net, try this WIKI NLP entry for a little taster. In any case, although Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a relatively new concept, it does seem to have a huge number of benefits, one of which is it can work very quickly where other forms of psychological conditioning can take years!

So, Change Your Life In Seven Days uses McKenna’s knowledge of NLP, the power of suggestion, and other knowledge and research he has picked up during his illustrious career (there is much more to him than the stage hypnotism he is so well known for - he has trained 1000’s of people in NLP and hypnosis techniques and helped many rich and famous people through fears, phobias, and addictions). It should be noted that unlike some of his other titles, he does not say “I can change your life in 7 days”, instead the title is more of instruction that “YOU are going to change your own life, and indeed this is the format the book takes.

It is structured to be easily manageable, to be read in 7 chunks over the week. Depending on your lifestyle, you may or may not be able to read it in the seven days, but there is nothing magic about the 7 days - you will not suddenly “fail” if you go over. Of course, the title is a bit misleading, book titles so often are. You MAY find your life instantly and irrevocably changed once a day 7 ticks over (indeed I have read books in a day which have profoundly changed some aspect of me or my life) - but this is a very bold claim/aim, and is not really what the book intends to do, I think.

7 days is a good benchmark to aim for though for actually reading the book - and I would say if you are fairly new to self-help concepts, then if you spend 7 days reading, and really getting into the techniques described in the book, then it will be a 7 days that sees you at the start of a journey which, if you take on the challenges and persevere, really will be the start of a life changing experience that will take you forward to new heights, new challanges, and levels you never would have thought possible before.

Self Help books ought always to come with caveats, however - and it would be irresponsible of me if I didn’t mention a few negatives. By and large, the reviews on Amazon are very positive, with five stars from the majority of independent reviewers - but this doesn’t mean that the negative reviewers don’t have valid points.

One serious point is that many NLP enthusiasts claim that their techniques work for everyone, and this is a claim McKenna makes early in the book. To claim that one particular system will work for everyone is quite silly - even pharmaceutical mega companies recognize that pills they pump millions of research dollars into, may only end up working for 50% or less of patients. I don’t think the claim is dangerous in any way - but there are people in our society who suffer significantly from mental illness, and help for them needs to come from a professional, rather and a self-help source.

Another criticism that could be leveled is that McKenna makes a lot of use of quotes and examples of famous people who have endured adversity only to go on to be big successes - the idea being that you have to fail 100 times to get the one success that will take you places. Of course, you have all the people who not only failed the first 100 times but also the 500th as well - while it is true that you make your luck, we are not all going to wind up millionaires by adopting an optimistic frame of mind! And there are no doubt people who do everything right, and who still fail miserably…

But of course, this would have no place in any self-help book whose purpose was to make you live more positively! But I just thought I would throw in a cynical paragraph, as I’m sure it crosses most people’s minds when they come across self-help books with bold claims!

All that said, having read through the book, I do believe it has some very valid and very significant information, laid out in a simple and accessible format, which, if followed through and practised enthusiastically, coupled with the mind-programming CD, will lead to very significant, even profound changes in people who use the techniques.

Change Your Life in Seven Days is a brilliant book for most people stuck in a rut, who want to work with accessible NLP and self-hypnosis to make improvements in their lives. The real message of the book is actually the opposite to what is suggested in the title (and this is probably a clever bit of suggestion deliberately thrown in there by Dr. McKenna!) - Changing your life in 7 days is a grandiose, even absurd claim - but it is by following the often very tiny steps in the book, changing our behaviour in what would at first seem not very significant ways, that major and profound changes CAN ultimately be achieved in the way we live, work and run our lives